Get an Early Start on Protecting Your Home This Fall

Fall is on its way and it should be the time that you prepare your home for the arrival of winter and the harsh weather that it brings.

If you're a homeowner, your to-do list for fall maintenance and upkeep can be long, depending on how well you keep up on repairs.

While the list may vary depending on the region you live in, the following are some basics that homeowners often need to take care of as winter nears:

  1. Clean out your rain gutters
    This should be at the top of the list as leaves and other debris collect in roof-edge rain gutters over the year.

    Look for any signs of granules from your roof shingles, which is a sign of heavy wear.

    You'll want to make sure that all obstructions have been removed so that when the rains arrive, that water can flow freely into the downspout.

    Finally, ensure that your rain gutters and flashing (the metal lip between the shingles and gutters) are securely attached.

  2. Check your roof shingles
    While on your ladder, you should take the time to also inspect the roof to make sure the shingles are in good shape.

    The average lifespan of an asphalt shingled roof (the most common in the U.S.) is between 15 and 20 years. Critters, severe weather and tree droppings and branches can damage tiles or hasten their deterioration.

    Look for signs of worn, loose or missing tiles and shingles with mold or rot on them.

    If you have a metal or tiled roof, or a roof with solar panels, it's best to have a professional do an inspection.

  3. Clean the fireplace and chimney
    This is partially another roof job. Hopefully your fireplace should already have been cleaned since the end of the last winter. Inspect the flue and make sure that any doors and shields are in good shape.

    Consider having your chimney swept clean by a professional, if needed.

  4. Check all weather stripping
    Weather stripping dries out and erodes over time from wear and tear and exposure to the elements, making it easier for rain and water to enter your home. Bad weather stripping also can add to your utility bill because it's no longer efficient in keeping interior air in and exterior air out.

    Do a visual check of the stripping around exterior doors and windows (including your garage door) and replace if it appears worn or cracked. Also, to make sure the stripping is doing its job, use your hand to feel for any air moving in when your doors and windows are closed.

    Here's a nice tip: Open a door, place a piece of paper in the entryway and then close the door. The paper should not slide back and forth easily. If it does, the weather stripping isn't doing its job.

  5. Clean and protect outdoor furniture
    If you don't think you'll be using your outdoor furniture again this year, you should:

    • Clean it all.

    • Remove any pillows and cushions and store them in a dry, safe place.

    • If you have space, store outdoor furnishings, tools as well as barbecues and other items in a shed or garage.

    • If you can't store it, protect it with a quality cover that keeps moisture and debris off furniture.

  6. Put some light on the subject
    Bring as much light into your home as you can for the colder, darker months. To accentuate natural light, clean your windows and blinds, especially in rooms that get a lot of sunlight.

  7. Turn off outdoor plumbing
    If you live in a cold weather environment, consider draining outdoor faucets and sprinkler systems and turning off the water to them. Cover them and any exposed pipes with insulation to protect against cold weather that could freeze your pipes.

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